Instead Of Condemning The Bullies, How About We Help Show Them A Better Way

Earlier while watching a moving and inspirational video clip that a friend of mine shared on facebook, I felt a loving and patient mama bear emerge from within who had something she wanted to say.

The video clip can be found here, and the article is titled A Developmentally Challenged Boy is Getting Bullied.  What His Peers Do Will Surprise You. It’s about a young boy with a disability who has been getting bullied, and many of his classmates showing their support for him.

What was most touching for me, was seeing one of the young boys who was supporting the bullied child get choked up with tears while speaking about what they were doing, and then the reassuring pats on the shoulder from his friends.  Not to mention the bullied child, Danny, is just about the most adorable thing you’ll see all day.  {big choked up super sigh}

But in that same moment, I felt my heart grow 3 sizes bigger (you know . . . Grinch-like . . . because it is the holidays and all) and I felt a pull and need also go out to the ones who do the bullying.

[Side note: Because I don’t want to take away from the inspiration and message of the video, I’d like to shift the focus from it being about the bullies of this specific incident to making it about bullies in general, even though I may refer to the incident as an example.]

What came up, was a feeling of sorrow and heartbreak for the bullies as well as the bullied.  The same kind of feeling that might come up in a mother who has just found out her own child has been hurt and humiliated, except I felt it simultaneously for both sides.

As the clip went on, I felt a sense of warmth, healing, and support for the one who was bullied.  I felt hope.  I felt very proud of the boy’s classmates for making such a gesture.  Peer pressure in school is harsh, and these young boys had to have a lot of courage to do what they did.

But the part of me that felt the sorrow and heartbreak for the bullies, continued to feel cold and neglected.  And it hurt.  And it made me want to cry for them.  It made me want to hold them in my arms in love.  All of them.  Because they are young too . . . and they are already losing their way . . . and I don’t ever see anyone stepping in to help them with love, compassion, or support.

Children model what they are shown (in their own individualistic way).  And for bullies, somewhere along the line, the adults and people in their lives have let them down.  They are then punished for it, and made to carry the burden of their ancestor’s sins.  How are they supposed to learn acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness when they are shunned, out-casted, and repeatedly told how despicable bullies are by all of society?

It feels like the moment we put the label “bully” onto a child, they cease to become human.  They become these ugly, snarly-toothed, drooling, incomprehensible monsters (Tasmanian Devil comes to mind) that everyone comes to boo and hiss and throw tomatoes at.  Booo!  You Loser!  How dare you make a bad life decision at the age of six!  You should probably go ahead and pack your bags and leave the planet because you’re not wanted here.

Okay, so maybe I’m over exaggerating. (maybe.)

But I think the point I’m trying to make is that we need to separate unacceptable behavior from the person themselves.  Their behavior is what is unacceptable.  Not them.  How ironic is it that we cannot see that the bully is not his bad behavior, even as we punish him (or her. equal opportunity for being an asshole.) for not seeing or understanding that the disability (or insert whatever here. . . being poor, ugly, uncoordinated, etc.) is not the identity of the kid they are bullying?

Are we not a world just brimming to the teeth full of hypocrisy and judgment?

Quit polarizing.  It’s unflattering and it makes your ass look fat.

I feel if we really want to put a stop to things such as bullying, we need to stop bullying the bully.  (<— wait . . . am I currently being a bully to the people bullying the bulliers . . . oh lawd help me!)

Because truthfully, we all have an inner bully.  Whether it’s towards ourselves or others . . . spoken out loud or kept quiet deep inside of us . . . it’s there.  “I’m too fat.”  “I’m such an idiot.”  “I’m so ugly.”  “I’m hungry.”  (That last one was just to see if you were paying attention.  And I’m actually hungry.)  When we are so ruthless and unforgiving of bullies, we are being just as ruthless and unforgiving of our own inner bully.

If we are sincere in our wish to stop the bullying, then I feel the entire approach and the way we perceive it needs to be completely revolutionized.  Instead of ‘good victimized kid’ vs. ‘bad devil spawn kid’, we need to see them both as children who are in a long trial and error process of learning how to grow into awesome adult version of themselves within a world full of other awesome human beings (that are sometimes going to act like assholes).

Maybe when a situation like this happens, we could doing something like bring the kid that was bullied and all of his friends into one area.  Bring the kid that was bullying and all of their friends into another area.  Have understanding, supportive adults who are capable of being in a non-judgmental space with each group.

Have each group hold the space for them (the bullier and bullied), to let them vent out their feelings regarding the situation.  Not judge if it’s right or wrong . . . just let them say whatever needs to come out.  Let the friends they trust, be there to give witness to their pain or anger or upset.  Not try to rush it.  Not try to fix it.  Not try to justify it.  Not try to make it less than it is.  Just to let them have the feelings they are having.

The adults can stand as the solid ground for the students as they work to get themselves right side up.

Once a feeling of peace, calm, acceptance, and understanding has become the dominant tone for the whole group, (for both groups) . . . then make the transition of moving both groups together into a 3rd neutral area, and allow the two halves to harmonize with each other (the same way as they did as separate groups) and mend the break/hurt that happened due to the situation.

It doesn’t mean they have to agree or even like each other.

But they can gain expanded awareness and understanding of things that are different outside of themselves.  They can learn how to respect and honor those differences.  They can learn how to accept people as they are without trying to change or control them.  And because of that, they can learn how to accept all of themselves as well . . . including their own inner bully.

Because they will have been shown, that even if they mess up or have a bad day and act like a total jackass, they won’t be hung from the ceiling by their toenail and tortured with an organic carrot . . . instead, they’ll be given priceless tools that will help them in real life as adults by showing them how to make amends (regardless of what ‘side’ they’re on), as well as being given an opportunity to try again with a sense of community and support.

Instead of condemning the bullies, how about we show them a better way.

Or maybe do this.

Or maybe do this.

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